Editor’s Note: Brian Metzler has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of running shoes over the past 25 years. This is the fifth installment of Brian’s recommendations on how to navigate the complexities of the running shoe market in these minimalist-maximalist-and-more times. Today Brian investigates the role of flexibility. In previous installments he has written about fit, cushioning, support, and offset.
Part 5: Flexibility
Generally speaking, the more flexible a shoe is, the more your foot will be able to move naturally with its preferred movement path over any type of terrain. When you run barefoot on soft surfaces, your feet don’t have to make adjustments for the variables of a shoe (i.e., the added weight, the cushioning, the structure, etc.). In other words, if the shoe isn’t impeding the natural movements of your foot, your brain can focus on balancing and propelling your body as you move through the terrain. But let’s face it, whether you’re walking down a city sidewalk, running on a dirt path or trying to conquer a Spartan race obstacle, we wear shoes so we have protection under our feet and at least a little bit of cushioning to soften the ride. With a flexible shoe that allows good range of motion, you’ll have maximum control and agility both in your typical running gait and amid the precise and unique movements necessary to conquer the Olympus, cargo net, or rope climb of a Spartan race.
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